St Ephrem’s Hymns on Paradise

Body–Soul–Spirit in Beatified Existence


  • Kenneth Avery Independent Scholar



St. Ephrem, Hymns on Paradise, poetry, symbolism, spirit, mystical experience, spiritual experience, paradise


This article looks at St Ephrem’s Hymns on Paradise, in particular the great poet’s conception of the whole spirit-body and the experience of transcendent unity in this world and the next. Until recently, Ephrem’s writings have been used mainly as doctrinal texts while his poetic symbolism has been only tacitly acknowledged. The beauty and richness of his verse hymns dealing with the garden of Eden and the life of the blessed are here read with an eye to his mystical vision of sanctified experience in the present life.

Author Biography

  • Kenneth Avery, Independent Scholar

    Kenneth Avery was born and educated in Australia. He studied Hebrew, Aramaic/Syriac, Arabic and Persian at the University of Sydney in the late 1970s. He continued his studies at the University of Melbourne where he completed his doctorate in the year 2000. His thesis was published by Routledge entitled A Psychology of Early Sufi samā‘: Listening and Altered States. Ken’s real love, however, is for classical Persian poetry, and he published a selection from Farīd al-Dīn ‘Aṭṭār’s Dīwān with the help of award-winning poet Ali Alizadeh in 2007: Fifty Poems of ‘Aṭṭār: Texts, Translations and Analysis. The biographical tradition of early Sufism is also one of Ken’s interests, and in 2014 he published a monograph on the misunderstood Shiblī: His Life and Thought in the Sufi Tradition (SUNY Press). He is now engaged in publishing a biographical and analytical work on the ninth-century radical Bāyazīd al-Basṭāmī. He is also translating ‘Aṭṭār’s Asrār-nāma, the first English version of this major work. Ken lives in rural Victoria and works as a musician and music teacher.


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How to Cite

Avery, K. (2024). St Ephrem’s Hymns on Paradise: Body–Soul–Spirit in Beatified Existence. Journal for the Academic Study of Religion, 37(1), 52-67.